The economics department currently has 25 regular faculty members. About three-fourths of us are in residence in a typical year, with the others spending time away on research-related leaves. Economics is the most popular major at Williams, with an average of 108 majors per graduating class in the four most recent years through the class of 2020 (about a fifth of Williams undergraduates major in economics). Another 10 to 20 students graduate each year with a major in Political Economy, an inter-departmental major combining economics and political science with a strong public policy focus. The economics department also operates and staffs the Center for Development Economics, which offers a one-year Master’s degree in Policy Economics for about 25 to 30 early-career public servants from developing and transitional countries each year. In 2015 study, Williams College ranked first among all US colleges and universities in terms of the share of its recent undergraduate degree recipients who eventually went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics.
As of May 2019, the IDEAS ranking of the research productivity of all US economics departments ranked the Williams College 51st overall, well above all other liberal arts college economics departments, and above many well-regarded mid-tier research universities. A 2016 study found that the Williams College economics department ranked first in terms of citations to its research among economics departments at all liberal arts colleges, with more than twice as many citations as the second-ranked department. Williams was also at or near the top of rankings of research productivity of liberal arts college economics departments in studies published in 2008, and 1997. We have an active seminar series where department members and economists from other institutions present their research. The department maintains three working paper series, including a general departmental series, and specialized series on development economics and topics in the economics of higher education.
The department is part of Northeast Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC), a major forum for the field of development economics, and has occasionally hosted the annual NEUDC conference.
An overview of the economics major is available here, and a current list of courses with descriptions is available here. Economics courses at Williams offer the advantages of a liberal arts college setting, including small class sizes and significant interaction between faculty and students. The department offers a wide variety of courses, including introductory classes designed to serve the needs of potential majors and non-majors alike, core courses in economic theory and econometrics, numerous lower-level and upper-level electives, tutorials, and senior seminars involving a significant research and writing component. The offering of electives is flexible and designed to serve the teaching and scholarly interests of faculty members as well as the interests of students. Department members are also encouraged to develop new courses. A number of department members teach in several inter-departmental programs in the College (Political Economy, Environmental Studies, Afro-American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Asian Studies, and several geographic Area Studies progams).
About Williams College
Williams is a highly selective coeducational liberal arts college located in northwestern Massachusetts in a town of 8,000 people. Founded in 1793, Williams now has 2,100 full-time undergraduates with roughly equal numbers of men and women. Williams College’s endowment exceeds $2 billion, ranking it among the top decile of all colleges and universities, as measured by both total endowment and total endowment per student. The cultural resources of Williamstown and the Berkshires provide students, faculty, and staff with many opportunities for recreation, community service, and musical and theatrical performances.